Events at BBVA Compass Stadium yesterday provided an interesting study in viewpoint, cause and effect.
From the Sporting Kansas City side, the Dynamo won because they made more plays, and because they shrewdly exploited referee Edvin Jurisevic’s inability to get his arms around the Dynamo’s rather cynical tactics.
SKC manager Peter Vermes more or less complimented Houston for their approach. In order to keep his visitors from finding a rhythm, in order to keep SKC from using the extra energy of an extended rest and run in behind the Dynamo defenders, Houston simply fouled in advanced places on the field.
That habitually allowed Houston to get 10 or 11 men behind the ball.
It should be stressed that Vermes wasn’t making excuses. He said straight out that Houston was the better side (“They got the ‘first half.’ They deserved it.”), but did point out the fouling, and that Jurisevic never got hold of the situation.
“At some point, the referee has got to step in and give a card, and that never happened,” Vermes said.
But before we get into a conversation about fouling, naiveté from the men in the middle and whether this is an overly cynical tactic, hear what Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear had to say about it. The highly respected Houston coach said there were no brilliant tactics at work here:
“By no means are we looking to go foul,” he said. “And to be honest, we talked about not fouling them at halftime, because it gives them opportunities where Graham Zusi can be dangerous.”
So, where is the real truth here? As with so many things, somewhere in the middle, most likely.
The field was terrible. It’s small to begin with (70 yards wide). It had been chopped up by a football game the day before. And it’s past growing season at BBVA Compass Stadium. Just as Sporting KC had some trouble with a brand new field last year, Houston’s is highly imperfect this year.
The net out is a hard, choppy field, which makes a “pretty” game fairly impossible to facilitate. Instead, you get a game with lots of 50-50 challenges, a lot of scrapping for second balls and a more than a few collisions. And fouls.
Kinnear certainly did cop to this part:
“It was no game for shy players,” he said.